W hen the blogosphere came on the internet scene, it opened up a new realm for people who wanted to appear smart.
We’ve all come across the nerd in the chatroom or forum who’d have us believe he’s big and bad, hammering out anonymous boasts like there’s no tomorrow.
Heck, you’re reading this now because you find this entertaining. Blogs give us all a way to read, react and respond instantly, connecting with other people of like minds.
But when it goes beyond that, when our online personna takes over how we see ourselves, that’s where the freak factor steps in.
Where It All Started
Recently, on a paid Alabama fan site called Tider Insider I was called out for a statement I made early in the basketball season. The site has its share of goofs, but normally has a good blend of intelligence and passion for Bama sports.
After posting about the impressive leadership on display from Bama coaching right now, a lurker called La Flama (or something else weak) responded from the nosebleed section of left field. He wanted to talk about something he thought I apparently said about Levi Randolph on February 7…out of the blue…from 20 days earlier.
Now keep in mind, for those unfamiliar, the site you’re on now is not like that one. Here we post an article or three every day, where people can respond with their thoughts. That site, which in my opinion is still the best of the paid sites, is largely driven by fan forums, where posters create the discussion themselves. On a given subject, on a given day, page after page can fill up with discussion in a matter of minutes. What you post can be buried in a sea of other posts in no time, where even Lewis and/or Clark may not be able to find it.
And yet this dude either dug through the site’s annals to recall my words or had instant recall of meaningless data from the past that would make the most tunnel-visioned autistic person cringe. Either option you take there is more than a little creepy.
So he wanted to call me out for a comment I made in passing during the February 7 Auburn basketball game. A comment I can’t remember making, by the way…and don’t miss this…a comment that had absolutey nothing to do with what I was talking about originally.
Then, the discussion shifted to another comment I made on January 26, where I asserted that Alabama would not make the NCAA tournament this year. For the 100th year in a row (sarcasm obviously mine), Bama would sit at home while 68 other teams danced.
The room was teaming with people ready to point to the current success of the team and call me out for making such a definitive statement. To understand the sin of making definitive statements, you have to understand the sin in the minds of so many of doing so.
The Blogging Cardinal Sin: Being Wrong
You see, in places like the room I speak of, the equivalent of “street cred” is acquired by being right. If you predict something, and it comes true, your cred increases. Do it enough and you become a god there. It becomes a cyber fraternity of sorts, where your screen name becomes the identity with other screen-name-havers that wish their lore and fame translated into real life.
So what most do is live in ambiguity. They don’t say anything for fear that they might be wrong. Or they make open ended statements that leave wiggle room for later.
January 26: The Day the World Stood Still
With the table now set, let me explain what happened on January 26. A day before, the Alabama basketball team lost their fourth straight conference game to South Carolina, the worst team in the league. To this very day, the Gamecocks are 2-12 in the league, with exactly half their wins coming against Bama. As a Kentucky fan friend of mine put it, Bama got beat by a bunch of lunch ladies.
Now keep in mind, this 2011-2012 Bama team was tabbed to be something special. The Dance was a given, as Grant had ‘em cocked and loaded coming into the season with great recruiting and potent upper classmen to lead the charge.
But the Tide had just choked in Starkville, come up short in a valiant (but another) losing effort in Rupp Arena, got their butts completely handed to them by Vandy (for the 7th time in a row) in Tuscaloosa, and then urinated all over themselves against a South Carolina team who would possibly play to a tie in an intersquad game.
In reaction to the most pitiful performance I had seen in a Bama uni in a long time…a performance that Alabama head coach Anthony Grant himself described as an “entitled brand of basketball”…I wanted to vomit. Watching upper classmen like JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell walk around, pout and play defense when they wanted made me want to vomit even more.
Seeing Mitchell foul out at Kentucky and then pitch a fit on the Bama bench as the nation watched at home made me even more sick. The team wasn’t gelling. Something was broken. And at the time, something that needed to be fixed didn’t appear on its way to happening.
So I committed the sin. I took what I saw, made an assessment (not in an article, mind you, where I think, write, edit and re-write, but on a blog), and said something in haste to the effect of “Forget making the tournament again this year.”
I know so many on that January night—following the team’s pitiful outting and 4th consecutive loss—ran to their bookees, phoned Vegas and bet everything they owned that Alabama, sitting at 2-4, would make the Tournament.
Oh wait; no one did.
Then they picked up the phone to place another wager that in two more games Anthony Grant would suspend Tony Mitchell, the team’s most electrifying offensive player and second leading scorer. Then in short order they phoned another bookee to bet what they stole from their loved ones that Grant would suspend three more players, including the teams LEADING scorer, JaMychal Green…and that the result would be a total transformation of the team.
Nope. Didn’t happen either.
The coaching job Anthony Grant has done this year is nothing short of remarkable. He has taken a team of talented freshmen and sophomores…who at times have played like freshmen and sophomores…and salvaged what was on a crash course with disaster.
But to think anyone in their right mind saw this coming in late January is just downright absurd. There was no hint that suspensions were coming, suspensions for which I opined for Mitchell and Green long before they were made (to be fair I wanted them sat, not suspended). And even if they did, there was no hint that a team with a sputtering motor would turn into a V6 before our eyes.
Some call it a lack of faith on my part; I call it calling it as I saw it given what was before me. You can’t look at a fat girl and say you have faith she’s the next SI Swimsuit Issue Cover Girl. You got yourself a fat chick, and hey, there’s a place for fat chicks, friends. In the basketball world, it’s called the NIT.
Bama was a fat chick in late January. And in fairness looked like a fat chick in the 2nd half against Florida. But now the Tide is looking more and more like Jennifer Lopez at the Oscars, and just in the nick of time.
So was I wrong?
There can be a difference between being incorrect and wrong. I was incorrect in my projections for the rest of the season, and frankly am tickled that I was. But at that point, given what was before me, with unforeseen circumstances like coming suspensions (and how they’d affect a young team), was I “wrong”?
The question itself has an obvious inferred answer. At least to anyone with a brain, a pedestrian understanding of basketball, and one good eye.
I usually reserve delusion for our Auburn friends, but these were Alabama brethren that gave our little brothers a run for their money. Saying Bama was on their way to the Tourney after January’s performances would be akin to a barner saying Cam Newton would win the Heisman after his first game against Arkansas State.
It was just the veracity of the argument that startled me most. It was likened to Glenn Close boiling a rabbit on a stove in Fatal Attraction over obscure comments made not days, but weeks beforehand. So tonight, as I tuck my sons in bed and peer out their windows, it just reminds me of what a creepy world we live in and that I’m glad our forefathers granted us the right to bear arms.
But don’t take this stuff too seriously people. To some this advice isn’t needed. But to still others, whose view of themselves can’t be separated from their online personna, heed some good advice:
Back away from the keyboard. Go outside. Get some exercise. Wash your hands and face. Engage with real people with real faces who don’t go by cute acrostics or zinger screen names.
Please live a little…and for your sake, and the sakes of those who love you, get a life.